Paralympic Medalist Encourages Students to Serve God through Their Area of Passion
After suffering the loss of his legs during a Russian bombing in 1987, Krige Schabort realized he had a choice to make.
“I’d lost something big and of course you have to deal with it,” the South African soldier turned Paralympic medalist told students at Shorter University’s Robert H. Ledbetter College of Business during a lecture on Thursday morning. “Initially I was so, so happy to be alive, and I thanked God for it. But then I was angry. …I finally realized I had two choices: either accept it and move on with life or spend my life blaming others.”
The moving on came as Schabort worked through his rehab, and his occupational therapist began taking him to sporting events. “One day she took me to a track event, and I said, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ I found my passion, and that turned out to be God’s platform for my life.”
From that day, Schabort said he began racing in earnest – at first against others in rehab and then against his own times. Finally, after securing his first racing chair – and a homemade one at that – Schabort raced in his first marathon.
“That chair went all over the road; I couldn’t go straight,” he said. “Everyone made fun of it, and after I finished the marathon, I was in so much pain that I promised I would never do another. It’s interesting though that pain is one thing you can’t remember. You can remember that something was painful, but not the actual pain.”
Soon, Schabort said the military gave him a racing chair, and he traveled to Europe where he spent several months moving from race to race and youth hostel to youth hostel.
“At the end of that year, I got my first sponsor,” he said, adding that that year (1991) also brought his first marathon win at the OITA Marathon in Japan.
In 1992, he competed in the Paralympic Games in Barcelona, but his hopes of winning a medal in the 5000-meters ended in a huge pileup on the track. He emerged with a dislocated shoulder and the determination to get back to competing.
“I licked my wounds, and a couple of days later, I lined up for the marathon,” he remembered. His performance in that race would earn him the bronze medal.
At that time, Schabort competed for his native South Africa, but in 1997 he moved to the United States where he became part of Team USA. He has competed in six Paralympic Games, including the 2016 Games in Rio, where he fulfilled his dream of competing in the paratriathlon.
“I finished in fifth place in the triathlon at the Rio Paralympics, and it was a dream come true,” he said. “I never got a gold at the Paralympics, but I got golds at some world championships and Ironmans.”
Schabort ended his remarks by asking the students to ask themselves two questions: What will I do to be successful? and What will I do to stay at the top of my game?
“Have you found your passion?” he asked. “It is so much easier for God to use you in the area of your passion. My area of passion became God’s platform in my life.”
Schabort’s lecture was sponsored by the Ledbetter College of Business and was presented as part of Shorter’s Character Education course taught by Rick Johnson. Schabort lives in Rome with his wife, Caron, and their children.
“We were very appreciative to have Krige on campus to speak to our Shorter students,” said Dr. Heath Hooper, Dean of Shorter’s Ledbetter College of Business. “Krige’s journey is an encouragement to everyone he comes into contact with. His passion for God and life is evident in his testimony. Every person in attendance walked away with a greater meaning and sense of purpose for their own lives.”
Founded in 1873, Shorter University is a Christ-centered, four-year liberal arts university committed to excellence in education. The Princeton Review annually includes Shorter University on its list of Best Southeastern Colleges. The university offers traditional bachelor’s degrees in 40 areas of study, online courses and degree programs, undergraduate programs for working adults, and master’s programs. Learn more about Shorter at www.shorter.edu.